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The Story Of A Trust Treasure Who Became a True Golden Boy

Britt Assombalonga, Watford FC Men’s First Team Player, as told by Club Senior Content Editor Peter White

It’s often said there’s no place like home, and upon his return to Watford FC in January 2023 – little under 10 years on from his initial departure – Britt Assombalonga expressed his delight at going full circle back to where it all began.

The seasoned DR Congo international’s story started somewhat unconventionally with the Hornets’ Community Sports and Education Trust, when – after enrolling at Hertswood School in Borehamwood aged 16 – he discovered an impact scheme that combined education and playing football.

Impressive performances on the pitch quickly raised eyebrows within the Club’s Academy ranks, and following a successful trial, a scholarship and strong displays at Under-18 and reserve level, Assombalonga was rewarded with a professional contract in 2011, and ultimately his first-team debut in March 2012.

“The journey up to the first team happened very quickly,” he said. “I was involved through my college initially, and I really enjoyed being part of the community events, playing football and just having an association with Watford FC.

“We used to play games on Wednesdays, and Chris Andrews, who ran the centre, told me the football club wanted to have me in for a trial. It came as a shock, but before I knew it I was lining up for the first team against Coventry!

“The Trust certainly opened the door for me to go on and enjoy a career as a professional footballer, but even before that it really helped me engage with my community and combine my studies with sport, which I’m really grateful for.”

After only four senior Watford appearances – and loan spells at Wealdstone, Braintree Town and Southend United – Assombalonga left Watford for Peterborough United in July 2013, going on to enjoy a stellar decade in League One and the Championship at the Posh, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, and abroad with Turkish outfit Adana Demirspor.

At the age of 30, he re-signed terms at Vicarage Road on an initial short-term contract and assumed squad number 34 – the first number he was assigned as a Hornet back at the very beginning. Assombalonga wasted no time before getting involved with Trust events as a Golden Boy once more.

He said: “I loved my time at my other clubs, but I always followed Watford and I was over the moon to come back.

“It was a bit strange having left as one of the youngest, and then being one of the older heads in the squad when I re-signed, but I was keen to use my experience to help the up-and-coming players, as well as all the kids out in the community who are like I was at the very start.

“I helped at an event at Westfield Academy a few weeks after re-joining. It was great to answer questions about my story and what it takes to be a footballer. It’s always nice  to see the smiles on kids’ faces, because I know first-hand how important the Trust’s programmes are.”